Brighton CEO Paul Barber warns restarting Premier League too early could ‘cost lives’ as third player tests positive for coronavirus

Brighton chief executive Paul Barber has warned that the Premier League returning too early could ‘cost lives’.

The 2019/20 campaign is currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic but the league is discussing plans on how to restart the season.

BARBER - Brighton CEO Paul Barber warns restarting Premier League too early could ‘cost lives’ as third player tests positive for coronavirus
Brighton CEO Paul Barber warned against restarting the season too early
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The Premier League’s Project Restart proposals have met opposition from numerous clubs.

Barber has made Brighton’s opposition plain from the start and has ramped up his concerns, telling the Daily Mail: “We have got to be careful that we do not misstep here because if we do, it could ruin lives.

“It could cost lives. And we cannot afford that.”

This comes as a third Brighton player tested positive for coronavirus and will go into isolation for 14 days.

Ahead of Monday’s crunch meeting of top-flight shareholders, Watford, Brighton and Aston Villa have now made their opposition to the current plans clear.

The plan to use neutral grounds for the remaining 92 fixtures is one particular point of contention, particularly for clubs fighting to avoid relegation.

Watford became the latest club to rail against plans to end the season at neutral venues, with chairman Scott Duxbury saying the league has a ‘duty of care’ to address concerns about ‘distorted nine-game mini-league’.

“There is no altruism in the Premier League,” Duxbury said. “There are 20 different vested interests, which sometimes align but more often than not work purely to protect each individual club.

“That is why some clubs are happy to sign up to ‘Project Restart’ because arguably there is only an upside in participating in this compromised format; it means Liverpool can win the title, other clubs can book their place in Europe next season or potentially fight their way up the table from a position of safety.

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The Amex Stadium has been turned into a coronavirus test centre
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“But when at least six clubs – and I suspect more – are concerned about the clear downside and the devastating effects of playing in this kind of distorted nine-game mini-league, then I believe the Premier League has a duty of care to address those concerns.

“If we start and finish a whole season under these conditions and at neutral venues when everybody knows the rules when we start, not created in a time of crisis, then that is clearly fair.

“To be asked to finish a quarter of the season under new rules and conditions is an entirely different proposition.

“How can the long-term future of clubs be determined under these fundamentally changed conditions? How is there any semblance of fairness? To wave aside all the fears and concerns is too simplistic.

“Surely all 20 clubs must agree the fairest way forward to complete the season? I hope we can now come together and find a solution to enable the season to end safely and fairly.”


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